Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011 - how was it for me?

It's New Year's Eve with the prospect of a brand new year only hours away, so time to take a look back at what I managed to achieve these past 12 months. To begin with, here's a selection of some of the projects I knit, one for each month of the year.
josiekitten's project a month 2011
Let's take a look back at my kntting resolutions for 2011 and see how many of them I managed to achieve!
1. To knit from stash - I set myself the target of knitting up 100 balls from my stash, and only managed to knit 50! I've been looking back through my stash photos, and although I have managed to acquire a fair bit of lovely new yarn, much of it has come through swaps with Ravelry friends. Apart from my Knit Nation splurge (which I had allowed for!), pretty much all of the yarn I bought this year was for specific projects and has been knit up already! So I feel pretty good about my yarn purchasing this year.  In total I have knit almost 12km of yarn in 2011!
2. To knit some garments for myself - I have managed to knit one cardigan this year - Peasy.
Peasy (1)
I do love this cardigan, although I did have a few sizing issues with it. Being so tall, knitting jumpers and cardies for myself is no quick (or cheap!) task! I have to lengthen the body and sleeves, and sometimes that results in extra width knitting too. I'm hoping that one day I'll be able to take Anne Hanson's sweater fitness class and learn how to adjust patterns to fit me properly. I have a sweater currently as a WIP that I must crack on with in 2012.
3. To have less projects on the go at any one time - I have definitely had less projects on the go this year, although it hasn't stopped me having some projects hanging around for months! I still need my fix of instant gratification with a pair of socks or a scarf!
4. To try some different techniques - I didn't manage any colourwork (again!) but I have managed to knit with beads on my handspun Ishbel.
Aegean Ishbel (5)
I also got to grips with lace for the first time, and completed 4 or 5 different projects. One of my favourite is Long Shadows. This was the first project in the Fall in Full Color Club which I've been a member of this year.
Longshadows (3)
I wouldn't say that lace comes intuituively to me, but I am getting better at recognising whether I need a yarn over, a ssk or k2tog for example.
5. To have a go at designing - Despite taking a sock design class with Cookie at Knit Nation this year, I'm ashamed to say that I have got no further with designing my own pair of socks! I will do it one day, when I have more time to sit around and play. I have 'designed'  a couple of very simple items. The first was a hotwater bottle cover and the second was a little knitted Christmas tree for my school knitting club.
josiekitten designs!
6. To improve my spinning - I have been thrilled with the progress I have made with my spinning this year. I went on a spinning weekend way back in February and have been spinning regularly ever since. I even took part in the Tour de Fleece on Ravelry and won a prize for my efforts! Here's a photo montage of most of the yarn I have spun in 2011.
2011 - spinning year
So what am I hoping to achieve in the coming 12 months? Actually I think that my knitting aims are going to be pretty similar to those of 2011!
1. To knit from stash as much as possible! (Is the target of 100 balls knit from stash wildly optimistic?!)
2. To continue to learn new knitting skills. (I'm hoping that some colourwork will feature in at least one project in 2012!)
3. To carry on spinning. I would like to experiment with a wider variety of fibres this year (I have plenty in my stash, have no fear!) and to knit up more of my handspun yarn (Flo could be in for a number of blankies!)
4. To have a go at designing. I still think that there's a pair of socks in me somewhere!
So there you are! That's me done and dusted for 2011! Whatever your knitting plans are for 2012, I hope you have a happy, healthy and knitful New Year! See you next year! xxx

Friday, 30 December 2011

Meeting friends

Hello again! I had a lovely day yesterday when I met up with Erin. We first got to know each other in 2010 when we were booking up for Knit Nation classes, and have stayed in touch ever since. This time Norwich was our destination, and I met Erin off the train. The weather was decidedly uncooperative so we headed for Norwich Cathedral. It's a really beautiful building, well worth a visit if you are ever passing.
Erin's visit to Norwich (3)
Inside it was richly decorated with holly and ivy wreaths and garlands and looked most festive. 
Erin's visit to Norwich (2)
You can see the roof bosses in the distance in this photo - there are about a thousand of them in total in the cathedral. They have a mirror on a trolley so that you don't have to keep craning your head back to see them. You can get a closer look at the bosses around the cloisters.
Erin's visit to Norwich (5)
We spent a long time in the cathedral looking around and chatting over a drink before walking through Elm Hill to get to our final destination - afternoon tea at the Assembly House! We were served an assortment of dainty sandwiches, cakes and the most delicious fruit scones with jam and cream, and of course, endless pots of tea.
Erin's visit to Norwich (1)
Erin brought me a beautiful gift, all the way from her LYS in Canada. She is a member of the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitters' Guild, a very active group. One of the members, Tabi Ferguson, dyes the most wonderful fibre. Her Etsy shop is here, should you wish to take a look! (Always happy to enable!) Just feast your eyes on this gorgeous fibre - 100% Bombyx Silk roving in the shade Cerulean Blue. It feels so luxurious, I'm looking forward to having a go at spinning it.
post-Christmas stash 004
I shall be back tomorrow to take a look back at 2011, and share some of my knitting ambitions for 2012. See you very soon! xxx

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Lazy days

Christmas chocs (5)
So how was your Christmas? Mr JK and I had a very nice time - really quiet, spending time together with a roaring fire, yummy food, knitting (me), fact books (Mr JK) and a new Christmas jigsaw! It seems to have become a bit of a tradition that once Christmas dinner is over and the dining table is cleared, out comes a jigsaw. Here's the one we are doing this year - rather too much red and white for my liking!! It might still be on the table come Easter!! Santa was very generous and brought me a couple of lovely knitting books. One, all about sock knitting, has a DVD with it, whilst the other is all about how older relatives have inspired some of today's well-known knitting designers.
Christmas books 001
On Boxing Day we went along the coast to Wells-next-the-Sea to blow away the Christmas cobwebs. It was a lovely day, just perfect for a walk along the beach. A lot of other people had the same idea! All those 'ants' you can see in the distance are people who have walked out to the small mound.
Blowing away the Boxing Day cobwebs (8)
The beach huts at Wells always make me smile. They provide a lovely colourful backdrop to the beach back across the sand dunes and pinewoods.
Blowing away the Boxing Day cobwebs (10)
I finished knitting Mr JK's hat and scarf a couple of days ago. He wanted something warm to wear for when he goes to watch Norwich City playing football. I bought some Malabrigo Worsted weight yarn which is an absolute delight to knit with. I'm actually amazed that I managed to finish them at all, since Florence took rather a liking to the yarn. If I left the knitting out anywhere, more often than not, she would find it and squish herself into it! Perhaps she is hinting that she'd like a Malabrigo blankie!!!! A cat of impeccable taste! Apologies for the slightly blurry photo, but Flo was trying to pretend that she hadn't been caught 'red-pawed' kneading away on the hat!
You left it here, honest! 001
For the hat I used Jared Flood's Turn a Square pattern and it's a perfect fit! For the scarf I knit stocking stitch with a garter stitch edging. All the stripes meant that there was a mini-mountain of ends to be woven in.
Canary 'ends'! (1)
All the woven in ends combined with the fact that despite the border, the scarf has a tendency to curl inwards has made me decide to back it with some fleece. I'm still waiting for the fleece to get here, so Mr JK isn't allowed to wear it for the moment! I'm hoping that it will be done by the time we go to the next match in January. I have enough yarn left over to make myself a scarf too - but this time I'm going to avoid the 'ends' issue and knit myself a Three Colour Linen Stitch scarf. Here's Mr JK's matching set.
Let's Be Having You! 006
I also finished another pair of plain vanilla socks for an old friend of mine. She asked me about a year ago if I'd knit her a pair. I'm rather ashamed that it's taken me so long! Better late than never!
Plain Vanilla socks no (5)
I opened my Christmas swap parcel from my partner Valerie on Christmas Day. Valerie had spotted that I'm a fan of the colour purple, so there was a theme to my parcel. As well as some rather delicious chocolate and a packet of stroopwaffels (yummilicious!), there were two balls of yarn and lots of other goodies!
Awesome swappers Xmas swap 2011 (1)
I've managed to do a little spinning too this holiday. I treated myself to some fibre from picperfic's Etsy shop. She does have some of the most glorious fibres and colours that I've come across. I've spun the first half of this braid of fibre - a mix of supersoft merino and nylon, so it has a bit of sparkle. I'd love to say that it's going to become a pair of socks for me, but I don't think that I've spun it anywhere near thin enough to have the yardage. It'll make something nice though, I'm sure!  
Happy Christmas fibre (2)
I'm off to Norwich tomorrow to meet up with a Ravelry friend Erin. She is visiting friends in London and is coming up to Norfolk for the day. I can't believe that it's a year since we last met up and went to Loop! Where does the time go?! See you soon, before the end of 2011 I hope! xxx

Monday, 26 December 2011

Thank you Santa!

Dear Santa,
I had a lovely day yesterday. Thank you for my presents.
I had a new table mat - all pink and girly!
Thank you Santa (2)
...... a bowl for my biscuits,
Thank you Santa (3)
....... a remote control mouse (I think my Dad likes this more than I do because it's a gadget!!)
Thank you Santa (1)
......  and a squeaky Santa toy which is actually lots of fun to play with!!
Thank you Santa (4)
But my bestest present came all the way from California from my Aunt Kim. It's a laser mouse and it is sooooooo much fun!! I just love to chase it around the house.
Thank you Aunt Kim, you're the best!!
Lots of love and purrs,
Your niece Flo xxx

Monday, 19 December 2011

Disaster averted!

disaster averted 004
I shut myself in my craft room with a cup of tea, shut Florence out (much to her annoyance!), and emerged triumphant an hour and half later with two cakes of yarn! Phew! Both skeins were tangled, although the second nowhere near as badly as the one I showed you in the photo yesterday. Lookout wussypillows, here I come!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Getting that Festive Feeling!

4th Sunday lit (1)
Only a week left until the Big Day itself! It has been a completely mad week at school, with Christmas performances, carol singing, a church service and class parties! I made myself stay late after school on Friday to take down all the decorations and cards. I hate having to do it on the first day back! My knitting group were busy all Friday morning finishing off the decorations on their little trees. I am so pleased with how they turned out. They felt very proud of themselves.
Fourteen of them managed to complete the project. They found it harder than I'd thought they would when it came to remembering to knit 2 together to make the triangle shape. But with a little gentle persuasion, they all managed to take on a tree-like shape!
Now I need to think of a new project for the spring term. This term they have also knit squares which I have to sew together to make blankies for the local cat sanctuary. That's on my 'to do' list for the holidays.
Mr JK and I were busy in the kitchen today, making a double batch of crumpets for the Christmas holidays. They are really delicious toasted with some of our homemade raspberry jam. We use the Hairy Bikers recipe - it's dead easy to do. Once you've tasted homemade crumpets, you won't want to buy them again!
Christmas crumpets (3)
I have managed a little bit of Christmas gift knitting this weekend. I bought yarn last year to knit my friend Marijke a scarf, and never got round to it in time! This year I've managed to knit a cabled keyhole scarf from Knitspot. I made a few of these as presents last year. The pattern is dead easy and knits up so quickly. I hope she will like it!
cabled keyhole scarf (8)
I'm impatiently waiting for this month's club yarn to arrive. The pattern was released yesterday, and it's a really lovely keyhole scarf and mits set using the most yummy mink and cashmere yarn from Great Northern Yarns. I hope the yarn gets here tomorrow, or I might just have a big tantrum! Just in case it doesn't show up, I've got another of Anne Hanson's patterns lined up - Wussypillows! I have wanted to knit myself a beret for absolutely ages! I even have the yarn for it - Sea Pearl that I received in a swap from Kim earlier in the year. There's just one problem ..........
tangles (1)
........ the skein is hideously tangled up! It wouldn't wind on my ball winder whichever end I started from, so I decided to try and reskein it. Let's just say that the air was blue and I decided to leave it a while. I shall have another try later. I don't understand how a skein that at first glance looked ok could possibly end up in such a mess! If you don't hear from me in the next couple of days, assume that I have become entangled with the yarn!! See you! xx

Friday, 16 December 2011

Birthday Bounty

I had some lovely presents for my birthday last weekend! I'm sure you'd like a look, wouldn't you?! My dear knitting pal Snoopydog really spoilt me. She gave me some Wensleydale fibre in shades of blue and purple, and a skein of Eden Cottage Titus 4 ply in the shade Damson. Yum!
birthday bounty 013
She also gave me a truly amazing needle organiser case. I've been lusting after one of these ever since I first spotted them in picperfic's Etsy shop. It will be wonderful to get all my needles organised, as I'm not sure exactly what needles I actually have. I'm sure that I've bought extra pairs when I needn't have! So there'll be no excuses now! I've bought fibre from picperfic in the past, and I have to say, the quality of the work on this needle case is second to none.
birthday bounty 014
There is so much space inside to organise everything - perfect!
birthday bounty 016
I'll show you what it looks like after I've put all my needles away! It's even got a handy little needle sizer on the zipper!
  birthday bounty 020
I also received two rather delicious skeins of Woolen Rabbit yarn from another dear knitting friend Kim. She too knows how much I love purple yarn! This yarn has cashmere in it and feels so soft. The colour is Simply Plum and it just glows.
birthday bounty 005
I know just how nice this yarn is to knit with because Kim sent me a skein of it way back in the Spring when we were swap partners in the first Fall in Full Color clubhouse swap. I have just finished knitting a pair of socks, Anne Hanson's Fishbone Gansey socks. Mr JK has taken a liking to them, so they are headed for his sock drawer. He will have very pampered tootsies! The photo doesn't show the pattern off very well - the light wasn't great for taking pictures.
Fishbone Gansey socks (1)
I've already got another pair of socks on the go - another plain vanilla pair for my friend Zena. The yarn is from the  Regia Design Line Erika Knight range. I like the colours in the stripes. 
Plain vanilla socks no4 WIP
I realised that I hadn't shown you my latest spinning efforts all finished. I started spinning the fibre at the end of the summer I think! Anyway, it's plied now, and all ready for knitting.
Alchemy Fibre Arts BFL
I can't believe I've only been spinning for just over a year! I've acquired a sizeable fibre stash (no surprises there I guess!), and I do find it very relaxing. I'm looking forward to being able to spin yarn for my first handspun socks next year! This was my first skein of handspun back in October last year!
my first handspun! (4)
And this is a closer look at my most recent skein.
Alchemy fibre arts BFL handspun (4)
Oh to have more hours in the day for yarny activities! Still, the school holidays begin today, so I'm hoping to have some time to play in between all the mince pie munching!! See you soon! xxx

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Time flies!

John Rutter Christmas concert 041
Oh my goodness! I can't believe that I have missed a whole week! Last time you popped by, there was only one candle lit on the Advent stand. And take a look at it now! Yes, there are three candles lit! I have been so busy with Christmassy things at school plus singing in a couple of carol concerts, as well as going away, that time just seems to have flown by. I can't believe that in 2 weeks time, it will be Christmas Day! Luckily I was able to take a little breather today when Mr JK and I sat down to enjoy a slice of birthday cake and a cup of tea. Yesterday it was my birthday, and there was some cake leftover from my birthday offerings at school, so I brought it home. And it did taste deeeeelicious! The tea is in a new birthday mug. The light doesn't show it off terribly well, but it's a Le Creuset mug in graduating shades of purple! It is a perfect mug for tea - keeps it piping hot. I can't bare warm tea - ugh!!
Anyway, back to what else I have been up to! Last weekend Mr JK and I went to Liverpool. We went mainly to see a concert at the Philharmonic Hall performed by John Wilson and his orchestra. It was his 'Hooray for Hollywood' film music, and it was just perfection. I think that his Prom concert of the same music is going to be on the TV over Christmas. Do try to see it if you can, it's a real musical treat. We started the day at the Albert Dock, dodging the rather unpredictable rain showers.
Liverpool Dec 2011 011
We visited the Beatles Story and the Tate gallery. There was an exhibition of sculpture there. Some of the exhibits were quite frankly just plain weird. I really liked a mirrored cube. It had some circular holes cut in some of the faces which you could look through. Inside it was just an infinite number of reflections! I took a photo of myself looking in, just so you can get the idea. Someone else was looking through another of the holes at the same time as me!
Liverpool Dec 2011 041
We also visited Liverpool Cathedral. The cathedral choir was rehearsing for a Christmas concert that evening, so we sat down and enjoyed some rather beautiful singing. There is a rather lovely window which was being painted by an artist.
Liverpool Dec 2011 027
It was a lovely way to pass the time on a rather dreary afternoon. Music is a great spirit-raiser!
Liverpool Dec 2011 029
There is a large Chinese district in Liverpool. The entrance to that part of the city is marked by a very impressive gate. The street names are written both in English and in Chinese.
Liverpool Dec 2011 035
Yesterday, Mt JK and I were gadding about once again. This time we went to London for the day to go to the John Rutter Christmas concert at the Royal Albert Hall. We are both huge fans of Rutter's choral music, and especially love his carols. The Albert Hall is a magnificent building, both outside ....
John Rutter Christmas concert 011
.... and inside.
.John Rutter Christmas concert 022
It was a wonderful concert. The musicians of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra got into the spirit of the event and appeared in the second half sporting Santa hats, reindeer antlers or tinsel! Such fun!
John Rutter Christmas concert 033
Today I have been playing catch up! Florence was keen to help me unwrap my birthday presents (I didn't get time yesterday!) Actually, she was more interested in the bag that one of the gifts came in!
John Rutter Christmas concert 038
I did get some lovely gifts, but I haven't yet managed to take photos of them, so I will leave sharing them with you until next time. I have almost finished my second Fishbone Gansey sock in my travels, so will finally have something knitting-related to show you too! See you soon! xxx